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Dating Blogger Amy: “Dating Internationally”

A charming girlfriend of mine once said, “I don’t do domestic—I only fly internationally.”  But she wasn’t talking about traveling.  She was talking about dating. Somehow, 95 percent of the men she dates have visas and accents.  Sounds fun, right?  … Read More

By / January 2, 2007

A charming girlfriend of mine once said, “I don’t do domestic—I only fly internationally.”  But she wasn’t talking about traveling.  She was talking about dating.

Somehow, 95 percent of the men she dates have visas and accents.  Sounds fun, right?  I’m learning how much so it is. 

These past weeks I’ve been seeing a man from Spain.  He’s kind, gorgeous, tall, cute, funny and—the sum of all these things—indescribably sexy. And his accent drives me crazy.  It’s one of the sexiest things about him. In fact, I can’t imagine being with anyone sexier. Ever. If he keeps making me melt away like this I’ll be Nicole Richie in no time.

But I find his Spanish-ness wonderful in more ways than those accented.  One being that he likes the same kind of trance/techno/house music I do (those Europeans know their shit in that department).  Another being that he plays soccer (read: hot body) on what ought to be a relatively high level (read: has skills) and doesn’t express interest in American football (read: low probability of my eyes rolling).

Yet, it’s this Spanish-ness that perfect strangers like to judge.

The first judgment came from a girlfriend’s new Argentine stepmother.  We were touring Stepmom and Dad’s lovely, newly renovated waterfront house with pale lime-green walls.  Girlfriend mentioned I was dating a Spaniard and things were going well.  Stepmom asked from where in Spain he hailed.

Upon my reply she let out a staccato sound that sounded like a cross between “Ay” and “Oh.”

“Dey are Cheaters,” she asserted amidst her prattling about the headache-inducing color on the walls of every room in the house. “But see what do you dink of having de long drapes ere? Because during the day de sunlight…” 

I know Stepmom wasn’t trying to be rude, or halt my melting, but, over-analyzer that I am, I asked Girlfriend for reassurance on our car ride home.

“She just said that, she didn’t think about it—it’s just a stereotype of ‘Latin Lovers’ maybe, you know? And Spaniard is nice, and you just started seeing him and you don’t have anything to worry about,” she advised.  “Don’t worry about what Stepmom says!”

Her words absolved any worry that bubbled up during my hour of sporadically over-analyzing Stepmom’s comment.  I don’t think I really thought about it again until recently, when my chiropractor in Austin offered her insights. 

“Do you have a sweetheart?” she asked while cradling and prodding the back of my skull as I lie supine on a brown padded leather table.

“Yes, I do,” I answered proudly.

“Is he a New Yawker?” she chuckled.

“No. He’s Spanish,” I warbled as she pulled my skull and right shoulder as hard as she could in opposite directions. 

“Oh, where’s he from?” 

“X.” 

“Where’s that?”

“It’s a town—er, city in Spain,” I answered under increasing head pressure.

“Oh, he’s Spanish Spanish.”

“Yes, he is.”

She put my head down and started poking the rear of my jawbone.

“How did you meet?” 

“We met when we were leaving a party on Halloween actually.”

She laughed and asked if I was dressed up.  I told her I was a bunny.

“Were you a cute bunny or, like, a sexy bunny?” she asked.

“A sexy bunny,” I said in my 12-year-old girl, aren’t-I-innocent? voice, lest she start judging me.  (She also treats my father.)

After a few more neck/shoulder pulls, foot bobbles, and neck manipulations with a clacking adjustable headrest she had me lie on my back with the lights off for a few minutes.  I overheard her in the next room talking to another patient about the man she was dating.  No wonder she’s so interested in my love life.  

She bustled back in with a soupy bright green smoothie, scribbled some notes on my chart and had me sit up to check my neck again.  She cradled my head and squeezed the back of my neck as she continued our convo. 

“So is he cute?”

Yes.  Yes, he is.”

“Oh, is he a ‘hottie’?”

“Yes.  He’s gorgeous.”

“Ah.  Well that feels better,” she cooed.  “You are now connected to your body again.”

“Yay! Thank you, that feels amazing,” I replied as I rose from the padded board, standing up straight effortlessly for the first time in nearly a year. 

She gathered my chart and started to bustle out of the room in her usual fashion, then stopped. 

“Have you seen any signs of, oh, jealousy or possessiveness?” she asked, searching for just the right words.

I thought a minute and shook my head slowly, the corners of my mouth turned downward, and answered, “No.” 

“Well look out for that because, you know, they’re raised differently.”

I contemplated her remarks for a moment.  “Yeah, but he is sooooo nice. Like, the nicest guy I’ve ever dated,” I said.

“Oh, ok. Well, good luck,” she said.

Thanks!

Nothing Chiro said was with an unkind tone.  Yet I began over-thinking her comment immediately. What the hell does “raised differently” mean? 

These two particular comments came from women who dated in their middle age.  Perhaps this demographic just has a negative outlook concerning the dating lives of other women?  But friends close to my age have speculated on Spanish dating as well and haven’t always been positive.

Regardless, why must they emphasize potential negatives surrounding a quality of my lover that I find highly appealing?  Any cultural differences I’ve noticed between Spaniard and past American lovers have been on the whole positive.  But perhaps they’re not cultural differences at all—maybe he’s just a wonderful human being with a charming personality, with whom I share a rare chemistry, who just happens to be Spanish. 

During the drive home I stopped mentally defending myself and Spaniard when I realized these comments were not only becoming a pattern, but were mere stereotypes.  I will no longer mistake these stereotypes for wise insights, especially when they come from perfect strangers and especially when they’re in reference to my man’s nationality.  And those of you offering unsolicited thoughts on the dating lives of people you don’t know, please think twice about what you say so you don’t needlessly freak anybody out.

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